Features of the G9600Pro
- Package and Contents
First off we take a look at the package. Gigabyte has dumped the Maya name for its latest video cards, yet has kept the same packaging as the Maya. The Golden Gigabyte Pyramid painted box is the new standard for Gigabyte's Radeon Packaging. This was used for the 9800 128, 9800 256, 9200 and now the 9600 Pro.
Gigabyte has as of late changed the contents they supply with their new video cards. First off you get your card with a User Manual that covers all the latest cards Gigabyte ships. Next you get a Driver CD with Catalyst 3.4 drivers, V-Tuner overclocking utility, various AGP GART drivers for Intel, SiS and VIA chipsets as well as a PDF documentation on the cards for various languages. For DVD playback WinDVD is provided for software DVD decoding, provided you have a DVD-ROM in your PC. Games have changed slightly, Gigabyte normally included two full version games and various demo versions of older games, things have changed. Tomb Raider, Rainbow Six 3 Raven Shield and Will Rock have been included, all of which are full version games. Connectors for S-Video and RCA TV output are included as well as a DVI to CRT converter for running two CRT monitors on the G9600 Pro.
- The Card
Now let's take a look at the card. Gigabyte has slightly reduced the size of the PCB compared to the reference design, but only by a few millimeters. Gigabyte, like Tyan and various others building 9600 cards, has chosen to use the blue PCB coloring that ATI specifies. It is unclear why blue is used but if it works it's all good and well.
As mentioned earlier, the core is the Radeon 9600 Pro. In our review of the Tyan Tachyon G9600 we took bit of a dive into the features of the 9600 Pro core, for more info follow our link.
In all, the core is identical to the one used in the Tyan review. ATI has removed the shim from the 9600 core as it was a much criticized feature that prevented proper and more efficient third party cooling.
Gigabyte follows the standard from ATI and supports 128MB of DDR SDRAM at 600MHz. The memory bus is 128bit wide which as been unchanged since the 9500 core. Samsung 3.6ns memory modules are used. These modules have proven not to be one of the best overclocking modules out there. Gigabyte also elects not to put any cooling on the memory modules which could also limit its overclocking potential, which we will talk more about shortly.
It seems to be a trend with the 9600 core cards to limit their compatibility to AGP 4x/8x motherboard. Being keyed for 1.5v/0.9v only eliminates any chance of using this card on older BX boards or any motherboard with pre-AGP4x slots.
While we were expecting a good overclock from the core of the Gigabyte 9600, we were disappointed with a maximum core speed of 415MHz and a maximum memory speed of 630MHz on stock settings.
Changing cooling of the VPU didn't change anything, neither did adding ramsinks to the memory, we were unable to go past 415/630 MHz, if you want an overclocking card, this isn't it unfortunately.